During the Korean War the British Army started adopting the layering process for combat clothing, first developed during WW2 by the US Army. The principle was basically that multiple layers of thin garments were better than a single layer of a thick garment as it trapped a pocket of air between each piece of clothing which then heated up from the wearer’s body heat and kept him warmer for longer. This contemporary set of photographs illustrates the principle:
Tonight we are taking a look at the bottom layer of this clothing system, worn next to the skin, this is a pair of ‘Drawers Pyjama’:These are made form a particularly soft and comfortable material, in white with a heavily elasticated waist:They have a simple open fly:And a button fastening on the seat to allow ‘calls of nature’ without removing the garment:A label inside gives sizing information, interestingly US and Canadian sizes are also listed:A second label on the seat gives instructions for use:This reads:
- Wear as a first garment next to the body.
- Wear during the day and for sleeping at night if required.
- Use brace loops as auxiliary form of suspension if required.
- Wash carefully and pull into shape when drying.
- Keep clean. A clean garment is a warmer garment
Returning to the original picture we can see the pyjama drawers being worn in the first image:This layering system was introduced in 1951 in response to urgent operational needs, but as can be seen from the date on this piece, production continued for a long time afterwards.